Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wining, Dining and Chilling in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa

Picture: At Ngor Beach - Ferry from Ngor Island Arriving

I spent a week in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa in May 2017, with my wife Annette Schiller. We visited our daughter Cornelia and her family, with husband Chris, daughter Viatrix and son Ernst, and stayed at their villa.

Pictures: Dakar, Senegal, West Africa

During my 30 years career at the IMF, I visited Senegal several times. I got first in contact with Dakar in 1983/84, when I was the fiscal economist in the IMF team that handled the adjustment program with Liberia, which is also in West Africa. We used to fly Pan Am New York, Dakar, Robertsfield in Liberia. Following the Liberia assignment, I moved to the Côte d'Ivoire team and visited many times Abidjan, the capital of Côte d'Ivoire. At that time Abidjan was the leading city in West Africa, ahead of Dakar. But things have changed. Abidjan has fallen back although it is recovering under President Ouattara. Dakar can look back to a long period of political stability while Abidjan has suffered severely from the civil war that brought the country down.

Pictures: In Dakar, Senegal, West Africa

Dakar has a quite interesting restaurant scene. This posting provides an overview of the restaurants in Dakar we visited during our stay. The list is pretty much driven by Cornelia, who has been in Dakar for a year now.

This posting is part of a series of 4 postings:

Wining and Dining in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
Schiller's Favorite Restaurants in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
Wine Producer and Wine Consumer Senegal, West Africa

The Cuisine of Senegal, West Africa

The cuisine of Senegal is a West African cuisine influenced by North African, French, and Portuguese cuisine and derives from the nation's many ethnic groups, the largest being the Wolof. Islam, which first penetrated the region in the 11th century, also plays a role in the cuisine. Senegal was a colony of France until 1960. Because Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is very important in Senegalese cooking. Chicken, lamb, peas, eggs, and beef are also used, but pork is not due to the nation’s largely Muslim population. Peanuts, the primary crop of Senegal, as well as couscous, white rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables, are also incorporated into many recipes. Meats and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices, and then poured over rice or couscous, or eaten with bread.

Dakar, Senegal, West Africa

Kate Thomas: With its hot sandy streets, whitewashed mosques and bright flashes of color, Dakar beats to a different drum than other West African capitals. Spread out over a rocky peninsula, the year-round breeze carries the complex sound of mbalax music and the smell of piping hot thieboudjenne, the national dish. As sunset falls, thousands of Dakarois head to the beaches for open-air workout sessions, while in the bustling Medina area, women fry fish and plantains by the roadside. Fishermen haul in their catch in the shadow of sleek shopping malls, while men dressed in silky boubous stop for prayers and hawkers sell peanuts and wood carvings on every corner. Dakar is a city of contrasts, of gentle breezes and loud chatter, of colonial architecture and construction sites.

Lunch/ Dinner at Home

We took many meals at home in the Fann district, halfway between the Plateau District and the Ngor District.

Pictures: At Villa Le Patio

Fruit

Most of the fuit we got from a small vendor around the corner. Sometimes Viatrix came along when I did the fruit shopping.

Pictures: Fruit Shopping with Viatrix

Wine

Although Islam is the predominant religion in the country, practiced by 95% of the country's population, with the remainder being mostly Roman Catholics, there is no shortage of wine in Dakar. You can buy wine everywhere, ranging from small shops in the neighborhood to supermarkets. The best wine store in Dakar is Africa-Gourmet in Ngor. L'Epiciere in the Plateau District also has a very good wine selection.

Picture: Neighborhood Store

Picture: Supermarket

Pictures: At Africa Gourmet, Dakar, Senegal

Bread

Like in France, we went to the bakery every day to buy our fresh baguette. Cornelia buys her baguette from Eric Kayser, which has a small outlet in a Lebanese grocery store a few blocks away from the villa of my daughter. On September 13, 1996, Eric Kayser opened his first bakery at 8 rue Monge in Paris. Today, there are over 80 Maison Kayser locations worldwide.

Picture: Eric Kayser, Dakar, Senegal

Meat

Cornelia buys her meat at the La Boucherie Nouvelle, a butcher shop (and more) that has recently opened in Point E near the City Dia. The owners, a Russian/ Sengalese couple, came to Dakar 30 years ago after meeting in St. Peterburg at university.

Pictures: At La Boucherie Nouvelle, Dakar, Senegal

Fish

foodrepublic.com: This nightly fish market pops up on the beach just as the sun is setting over the Atlantic Ocean. Makeshift plastic tables and chairs are arranged in front of the wood-fired grills of vendors offering the day’s catch at extremely affordable prices. There are usually around 20 different vendors, with typical Dakar seafood including mullet, grouper, hogfish, red snapper, porgysailfish, seabream, sea urchins, lobsters, oysters, shrimp and crab. Beer is not technically allowed, but let your server know if you would like one and he’ll happily oblige by running to the liquor store across the street. Generous portions include a tossed salad and side of sharp, tangy mustard onions. Located in a cove next to Magic Land in the heart of Dakar.

Soumbedioune (Fish Market)
Rue 15 1, Dakar

Pictures: Soumbedioune (Fish Market)

Tuesday

Lunch at La Cabane du Surfeur - Chez Abdou

At the beach in Les Almadies, Short menu of fish and meat dishes. A very relaxed place. We had our first meal there after arriving in Dakar. There are a dozen or so beach restaurants one next to the other in the area.

Pictures: Lunch at La Cabane du Surfeur - Chez Abdou

Wednesday

Lunch at the Beach/ Pool Restaurant of the Pullmann Taranga Hotel

The Pullmann Taranga Hotel was the place to stay and eat when I used to work on West Africa between 1980 and 2000. While we were there, it was undergoing a major renovation. The hotel and the restaurants/ bars are open during renovation.

Pictures: Lunch at the Beach/ Pool Restaurant of the Pullmann Taranga Hotel

We Looked at: Pullmann Tarange Wine Bar

The bar is very much New York style with a good selection of wines, including by the glass.

Picture: Pullmann Tarange Wine Bar

We Looked at: La Lagoon 1

theculturetrip.com: Lagon 1 is a refined place, offering visitors stunning views of Gorée Island on one side and the eastern headland on the other. The menu is packed with delicious fare, impressive desserts and tasty cocktails. Dining at Lagon 1 is a premium experience and the restaurant has catered for the likes of Jacques Chirac, Bono and Pierre Palmade to name just a few.

Lagon 1
Route de la Corniche Estate 1, Dakar, Plateau

Pictures: Lagon 1

Thursday

Lunch at the Terrou Bi Beach

Hotel Terrou Bi is among the leading hotels of Dakar.

Pictures: Hotel Terrou Bi

We Looked at: Terrou Bi's Le Gastronomique

On Thursdays, Terrou Bi's Le Gastronomique has interesting theme nights. Closed during Ramadan.

Pictures: Le Gastronomique

In the Evening: Wine Bar Hopping

Le Little Buddha

We started at Le Little Buddha, which is in the Sea Plaza Mall, but belongs to the Radison Blu Hotel.

Pictures: Le Little Buddha

Radisson Blu Hotel Wine Bar

Lonely Planet: Poolside wine at Radisson Blu - Part of the Radisson Blu Hotel (radissonblu.com), this poolside restaurant and bar offers views of the ocean, live music at night and a decent choice of international food: pizzas, salads, hamburgers, as well as a variety of seafood dishes and an extensive list of wines. The cozy sofas on the edge of the pool are great for a pre- or post-meal glass of wine. In the evening, marvel at the bluest shades of the pool stretched out above the ocean, amidst a dance of lights.

Pictures: At Radisson Blu Hotel Wine Bar

Le Bar a Vin Dakar (at L'Epicerie)

We went there for the wine, but wine is only one part of L’Epicerie. nouvellesdedakar: Entre épicerie fine, restaurant, bar à vin et salon de thé, cet endroit plein de charme situé au coeur de la ville saura satisfaire les plaisirs de chacun. Peter et Alexandre, aux commandes de l’Epicerie, ont sélectionné des produits de qualité souvent introuvables à Dakar et au Sénégal : huile d’olive du Château d’Estoublon, confiture Favols, vin Baron Gassier et un grand choix de thé ou encore de chocolats… Tout au long de l’année, la boutique au rez-de-chaussée vous propose des paniers garnis, spécial apéro ou dîner, des coffrets pour Noël, des paniers Ramadan, ou encore des produits sans gluten ou spécial cholestérol. Bref, il y en a pour tous les goûts.

Le bar à vin du jeudi et vendredi soir propose, sur le rooftop de l’établissement, d’arroser le tout d’un choix de vin (Français et Italien) finement sélectionnés par les patrons qui feront profiter de leurs conseils avisés. Et pour ceux qui n’en auraient pas assez, vous pouvez venir tester le petit dej’ tous les matins ou les délicieux plats du jour le midi. Il est également possible de commander à emporter sur Jumia Food des salades ou des sandwiches.

7 Bis rue Victor Hugo
Only open on Thursday and Friday

Pictures: At Le Bar a Vin Dakar

We Looked at: Chez Louatchia

Bassirou Sarr (Senegalese friend of mine): Just behind the French cultural center is a local restaurant called Chez Louatchia. It is an institution in terms of local Senegalese, Cap Verdian and Ivoirien fare. Bring a big appetite as they tend to have Senegalese portions.

Picture: Chez Louatchia

Bideew (French Cultural Center)

Bassirou Sarr: Nice place to have informal lunch or Dinner is the resto of the French cultural center (Bideew) in downtown Dakar. I usually go at night because traffic in Dakar is a big mess during the day.

Google: Sympa pour manger ou juste boire un coup. Le cadre apparaît comme un îlot de tranquillité au milieu du Plateau. Burgers le midi et soirs de spectacle.

Pictures: Bideew

Friday

Trip to the Island of Gorée

The island of Gorée lies off the coast of Senegal, opposite Dakar. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast. Ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, its architecture is characterized by the contrast between the grim slave-quarters and the elegant houses of the slave traders. Today it continues to serve as a reminder of human exploitation and as a sanctuary for reconciliation.

Pictures: Trip to Island of Gorée

Lunch at L'Amiraute

Lonely Planet: L'Amiraute - Escape the crowds filling the beachside eateries at this peaceful spot just past the Maison des Esclaves. You can sit on the outside terrace overlooking the sea and enjoy decent plates of fresh seafood.

Pictures: Lunch at L'Amiraute

Party at Ebbets Field in Dakar (American Embassy)

Pictures: Party at Ebbets Field in Dakar (American Embassy)

Evening at Phare des Mamelles

Lonely Planet: On the hilltop in front of Dakar's iconic lighthouse, this open-air bar draws a dance-loving crowd on Friday nights, when it hosts live music jams. Very limited wine by the glass selection. Breathtaking view and atmosphere. We had a bottle of Cotes due Rhone for CFAF 15.000.

Pictures: At Phare des Mamelles

Saturday

Lunch at Marina Bay Plage Restaurant

Pictures: Lunch at Marina Bay Plage Restaurant

Sunday

Trip to Popenguine

Saly, Popenguine, Casamance and Saint-Louis

Saly is a seaside resort area on the Petite Côte of Senegal, 2 hours (by car) south of Dakar. It is the top tourist destination in all of West Africa. Saly was originally a Portuguese trading post known as Porto de Ale, which became Portudal, and later Sali Portudal.

Halfway between Saly and Dakar is Popenguine, where we went for lunch at the Echo Cotier, a beach restaurant.

If you go down further south from Saly you get to The Gambia and, before the border to Guinea Bissau, to the Casamance River. The largest city of the Casamance Region is Ziguinchor. The Casamance Region has excellent beaches along its coastline, particularly at Cap Skirring. The Casamance Region is the birthplace of Senghor and where most of the Sereres ethnic group and mostly catholic live (accounting for 4% of the total population).

Finally, if you go north from Dakar, after 320 km you get to Saint-Louis, which was the capital of the French colony of Senegal from 1673 until 1902 and French West Africa from 1895 until 1902, when the capital was moved to Dakar. From 1920 to 1957 it also served as the capital of the neighboring colony of Mauritania. The city preserves much of its 19th-century morphology, reminiscent of other cities of the “Creole Atlantic”: Bahia, Cartagena, Havana and New Orleans. Thanks to its distinctive appearance, Saint-Louis attracts many tourists each year.The Saint-Louis Jazz Festival is the most important jazz festival in Africa.

At the Beach in Popenguine

Pictures: At the Beach in Popenguine

Lunch at Echo Cotier on the Petite Côte of Senegal

Pictures: Lunch at Echo Cotier

Monday

Evening Trip to the Ngor Beach

At Ngor Beach

Pictures: At Ngor Beach

Drinks at Black and White

Pictures: Drinks at Black and White

Original Plan: Dinner at Bayékou

Bayékou
Ngor Beach
Recommended by Cornelia's friends from Canada
Closed on Monday

This open air restaurant and bar is one of Dakar’s newest hip hangouts. Bayékou is laid out to accommodate those wanting some relaxed drinks by the round bar or lounge seating area, or those who want to sit at a table and eat. From both sections you can enjoy the stunning view over Ngor Beach below, and nearby Ngor Island. Food at Bayékou is mostly Mediterranean influenced.

Picture: Bayékou

Dinner at La Cabanne de Pecheurs

La Cabane du Pecheur
Plage de Ngor (opposite to Bayékou)

Kate Thomas: The city by the sea certainly knows a thing or two about good seafood. One of our favorite seafood restaurants is the La Cabane du Pecheur (the Fisherman’s Cabin) on Plage de Ngor. Decked out with fishing paraphernalia, including giant Merlin and Barracuda caught off the Dakar coast, this is the perfect spot for a seafood Sunday brunch: try the surf n’ turf or the fresh grilled fish of the day. The friendly waiters will bring over the day’s menu on a chalkboard. Nearby at La Pointe des Almadies, relaxed informal spots serve the day’s catch. Fans are loyal to the baskets of clams, while the fresh thiof fish, served whole, is also excellent.

Pictures: Dinner at La Cabanne de Pecheurs

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Heads up for the 2017 Tours - to Germany and France - by ombiasy WineTours

The “Rhums Arranges” - Arranged Rums - and the Tropical Fruits of Madagascar

An Amazing Week in Nicaragua, Central America, with Beer, Rum and Wine

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Singapore

Schiller s Favorite Winebars in Beijing, 2014, China